The Sweet Potato Pie is an old-fashioned Thanksgiving pie with a rich flavor and great texture. Of course, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t make it all year round if you wanted to!
It’s a hearty great pie. If you haven’t tried one before, you really must.
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This is the traditional classic recipe I have made for years. I’ve made it for my friends and for my friends mamas. And it always gets rave reviews (and I consider the mamas a tough audience).
I love the flavor of this Southern pie, and it’s so easy to make. It always makes me wonder why people buy pies from the grocery store or the big box club stores, when it doesn’t take that long to make a delicious homemade pie from scratch. And, I mean this is way better than any store-bought pie.
I think it’s time we stopped overlooking the delicious classic sweet potato pie (and just making pumpkin pies). Make them both! There’s room at the table for all pies! Hee hee
Sweet Potato Pies vs. Pumpkin pies
Sweet Potato Pie is similar to pumpkin pie, but typically not as sweet as pumpkin. It’s also a little less custardy, or denser, than most pumpkin pies.
Sweet potato and pumpkin pies are both custard pies, and all custard pies are made with eggs, dairy, and sugar. So there are similarities, besides just that pretty orange color.
Traditional sweet potato pie has a higher purée-to-custard ratio and fewer spices, which ends up with that denser more earthy flavor.
Sweet potatoes vs. yams
That brings up another topic about differences. Sweet potatoes vs. yams.
Now, I know that there is a technical difference between the two. And, you’re welcome to read all about those differences on the internet. I’d start off reading Wikipedia on sweet potatoes and them read up on yams.
But, honestly, people are going to call them whatever they want. Or, maybe they call them whatever their mom called them.
Either way, for this recipe, you want the red-skinned and orange-fleshed root vegetable.
Cooking the sweet potatoes
In my recipe I suggest that you microwave the sweet potatoes. It’s very quick and easy to do this. And the microwave mimics the baked sweet potato very well.
Don’t let them overcook in the microwave; keep an eye on them. They will cook a bit unevenly, but that’s ok. You can cut off the cooked parts and pop it back in the microwave, or simply scrape around the burnt parts when scooping out the cooked flesh.
Could you bake them in the oven for this recipe? Absolutely. Oven baked sweet potatoes are delicious, and you will avoid some of that uneven cooking that the microwave produces. But, they take about an hour to bake. Whereas 2 large sweet potatoes cooked in the microwave took me 8 minutes (and yes, my microwave is super powerful, so it may take you a little longer than that).
If you want to bake them, heat the oven to 375°F. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, and pierce them several times with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender, about 1 hour.
You could boil the peeled sweet potatoes if you wanted. But I find that the added moisture that boiling brings is not great for pies.
Heck you could even cook them in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot). I do not have one of these awesome little kitchen appliances, so I’ve never done it this way.
Make sure to piece the potatoes with a fork several times. Piercing the potatoes not only allows the steam to escape from the potato, making for a lighter fluffy baked sweet potato. But, piercing the potatoes helps to make sure that the pressure doesn’t build up in the potato and, if that happens, they could explode in your microwave. And, you don’t want that to happen!
Pie baking tips
This recipe makes one deep-dish pie. If you don’t have a deep-dish pan, you may have leftover filling. If this is the case, simply pour the filling into small ramekins and bake on the side. The ramekins will take less time to bake than the whole pie, so check early them for doneness, probably about 15-20 minutes early.
You want to bake the pie until it’s puffy around the edges, and the center is just set, but has a little wiggle still in it. The pie will continue to cook as it sits on the counter cooling. It will also deflate quite a bit.
It’s also much easier to cut once it has cooled down completely. I know! You’ll be tempted to cut into it right away, but give it a few to cool down before diving in.
Use your favorite pie crust for this pie, whether that’s a store-bought crust or a from scratch crust. Use whatever makes you happy.
The one trick that you should not miss in this pie is brushing the egg white on the crust. It makes for a deliciously crispy perfectly browned crust.
If you use the crust from the refrigerator section of the grocery store, make sure to follow the package directions on thawing before you roll out the dough.
I have found a frozen pie crust that I like. If you use a frozen crust, there’s no need to defrost it. Simply do the egg wash on the crust, fill it, and bake.
You do not need to prebake, or blind bake the crust for this recipe. If you prefer to blind bake, you can do so. And, my lovely friend at Lovefoodies has some great tips on how to blind bake your crust. Find them here.
Want to try making your own crust from scratch?
Here are some great recipes from my friends:
Flaky butter pie crust from Num’s the Word
Flaky sour cream pie crust from Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch
Gluten free & dairy free pie crust from Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch
Shortcrust pastry from Lovefoodies
Flaky buttery crust from Culinary Ginger
Simple pie crust from Culinary Ginger
Classic pie crust from Noshing with the Nolands
What is whipping cream?
The ingredients in this pie call for whipping cream. “What is that?”, you may ask.
Most well-stocked grocery stores will carry whipping cream in a carton in the dairy section of the store, and it’s probably right next to the heavy whipping cream.
Whipping cream is a liquid, much like milk or cream, that you pour out of a carton. It is not whipped cream that you squirt out of a can.
If your store doesn’t carry whipping cream, you may use heavy whipping cream. Please do not use whipped cream out of a can in this recipe. Whipped cream is yummy on top of this pie, though.
The difference between whipping cream and heavy whipping cream is the fat content.
Whipping cream, or light whipping cream, is lighter in fat and flavor than heavy cream, and contains 30% to 35% milk fat.
Heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream, must contain at least 36% or more milk fat.
Whipping cream, when used in this pie, will not be a heavy as heavy whipping cream, and will produce a nicer pie.
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Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
Sweet Potato Pie
- 2 large red-skinned sweet potatoes about 1 ¾ pounds
- 1 cup packed golden brown or light brown sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream (the kind in the carton)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon mace
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pie crust
- 1 large egg white beaten until frothy
- Position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat to 400 ° F.
- Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork several times. Cook in microwave on high until tender, about 4-6 minutes per side. Microwave times will vary.
- Cut the cooked sweet potatoes open, and cool completely. Scrape the potato flesh into a bowl, and mash it with a potato masher or a sturdy fork until smooth. Measure the potato puree to equal 1 ½ cups.
- Place the 1 ½ cups of puree in a large bowl, and mix in the brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in the remaining pie filling ingredients, whipping cream through salt, until just combined, don’t overbeat.
- Brush the crust with beaten egg white. Transfer the filling to the crust.
- Bake pie until filling is puffed around the edges and just set in the center, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Pie can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.